When I bought my first pinball machine, I was never told how to maintain or fix it If little problems started to happen, I would try my best to figure it out, but I had no idea as it looked like a plate of spaghetti wires inside a wooden box. All of the wires went to somewhere and they did what they were meant to do.
Over time, the wires would break from the pad they were soldered to causing the game to play incorrectly or not at all. I did not know how to read a schematic to repair the game. I called out the technician I bought the game from and he would come out and repair it. I would watch him fix it in hopes that I might be able to gain some knowledge on what to do in the event I needed to repair it next time. That didn't happen.
I would spend hours pouring over the scematic trying to teach myself what the symbols meant and what they referred to as it coincided with the game. Eventually, I got the hang of it and how things were supposed to function. There was no internet at the time and there were two instruments that I had at my disposal. There were a few pinball books written at the time. One was aptly named "Tilt!." A book that I still own to this day. It contains many valuable pages about pinball maintenance and caring for your pinball machine.
The only other tool that I had was the telephone and my quisling curiosities. I would call anyone that had the word pinball or amusement in their business name. Most of the time the person on the other end of the phone was very helpful and sometimes they didn't want to be bothered by a kid. Needless to say, it got me through some rough patches. As far as maintenance goes here are the basics -
Keep the game clean. A clean game plays better and faster than a dirtier game. Windex is great for cleaning the table top glass and backglass.
When I first got into the hobby, I am not recalling if there were many different playfield cleaners. I know that Pledge was my go to and if I wanted to splurge they was Wildcat or Mill wax. When I clean a games playing surface today, I like to use a product called Novus 2. It is a fine scratch remover and polish. It also does a great job at getting the dirt off.
On the mechanical games that have the scoring reels, I have found that Windex also works great on cleaning the dirt from the numbered discs. Light bulbs are also easy to replace and although they come in many different shapes and sizes, they are great at brightening up a rather dark burned out game. There are a lot of other tips that I will go over in later editions.
Oh yeah, Happy Flipping!